Children’s E-Books Surge in First Half of 2012, Paperback Sales Sag

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Sales of children’s e-books made huge strides in the first half of the year even as growth in adult trade e-books slowed, according to the latest publishing sales numbers from the Association of American Publishers. Revenues for trade paperback books sagged, presumably losing sales to e-book buyers.

Revenues from children’s and young adult e-books were up to $146.4 million in the first half of 2012, an increase of 252% over the same period last year. At the same time, adult trade e-books were up 34.4% in the first half, a marked slowdown from triple-digit growth a year earlier. Meanwhile, trade paperback sales are down about 20%, presumably losing sales to e-book buyers.

Overall, e-book sales accounted for about 25% of total trade sales, up to $768 million for the first half, an increase of 52% over the same period last year, according to Publishers Lunch.

From 2007 through 2011, e-book sales doubled or more every year. Digital growth at major trade publishing companies like Random House and Hachette — bellwethers for the industry — has slowed, too. Digital publishing revenues at both companies now represent 27% of total revenues, up from about 21% the year before.

In June, adult trade e-book sales were up 48.3% to $119.9 million. Children’s e-book sales were up 130.8% in June, a slowdown that mirrors The Hunger Gamesslide from the top of the best-seller list. And religious e-book sales were up 4.5% in June to $4.6 million, basically flat compared to triple-digit growth numbers in the earlier part of the year.

In 2012, the AAP expanded the number of publishers queried to nearly 1,200 versus about 90 in 2011. The report now also includes additional categories, like children/young adult. The 2011 numbers have been backwards-engineered to include the expanded data set.

Related: May E-Book Growth Numbers

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